Monday, February 28, 2011

How to get transitional style in your interiors - Part 1, Furniture shapes

I’m so often asked how to furnish a room in a transitional style that I thought I’d sit down and post some basic guidelines on each layer that we all encounter in decorating. Today’s layer will be the shapes to look for on upholstered furnishings: sofas and chairs. 

Transitional style, to me, means not quite traditional and not quite contemporary. It’s comfortable, stylish, inviting and easy to maintain. It can handle kids, pets and parties, but still look like adults live in the space.

Shapes to look for in your furnishings:

Quiet arms.  No big rolls, no arms big enough to sit on (perching might be okay).  Look for understatement, like these:

Even the armless sofa is worth a lookie. Great in a tight space:

A little trim on the arm is a nice touch:

Arms with a soft sheen--oh baby. And this leather chair is a swivel, so you can face other people or the TV:

A very small rolled arm is okay, but not easy to find.

And then there’s the legs. A leg that shows is much more modern than a skirted bottom and it takes up less visual space. Very pretty.

Nail head trim is very popular right now. Just don’t go overboard. You might want to pass on that trim I’ve seen around that is a double row of super shiny chrome finish on the nail heads. Destined to be a regret. Silver is shiny enough without having to add any extra bling.

This piece (below) would also work in a transitional design. It’s more antiquey than modern, but the upholstery on the arm was done in a very clean way and the arms and legs are open AND it’s good to mix it up a bit. This piece would get a lot of attention in a transitional space.

Did you notice the colors and upholstery fabric used on many of my examples?  That gives you a clue about what we'll talk about next time. 

I took all these photos at Expressions Furniture in Raleigh. 


Friday, February 25, 2011

Add some sparkle to your interiors with my Find of the Week!

Expression's Furniture on Glenwood Ave. in Raleigh had 2 of these sconces on sale and they are fabulous.  I'd describe the disc as hammered chrome, about 14 inches across. The candle holder is a dark metal (but I didn't touch it, so who knows?)  It's a smart look that could flank a piece of furniture, add light and reflection to a dark corner, make an urban statment in a powder room, spiff up a small dining area, etc. 

Here they both are, in all their glory.  $59.00 each.  $59!  A LOT of bang for the buck.  But there's just two of them, so get on over there and scoop them up! 


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Expressions Furniture in Raleigh--I could move right in

I want to do a quick post about my visit to Expressions Furniture in Raleigh.  I melted into this store from the first step--it's a warm, inviting, well done environment.  This is not a place to find some cheap and cute stuff for your rooms.  This is a place to find those pieces that you're going to fall in love with, be proud to have and design the rest of your interiors around.  The prices are not palatial, they're not scary high and they're not ridiculous, but Expressions is where you go to spend a little money on some solid, well made, well designed, comfortable furnishings that have a classic sensibility (no matter what your preferred style, you need some anchoring pieces) with a modern twist.  Oh, that was a long sentence.

The fabric selections are abundant.  The knowledge of their product is fantastic.  I spoke with Chris Melcher, a design consultant in the store, who was brimming with good info, tips and help (and she has such a great hairstyle!).  Natural flooring products (sisal, sea grass, wool), fabulous leathers, the latest Sunbrella outdoor fabrics that SOFT to the touch (even velvet!). 

one side of the fabric sample room

Furniture, lighting fixtures, accent tables, artwork.  My favorite Holtkoetter floor lamps are sold there--there is no better lamp company for me. 

I'm going to do one or two posts giving you some solid direction when decorating your rooms in different styles and will use pictures from my visit to Expressions, so you'll get a chance to see more. 

Oh!  And my Find of the Week is from Expressions, so I'll (try) to post it by Friday.   Oh dear, that's tomorrow!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Find of the week--an artist across the street

Diana Porter lives directly across the street from our house in Raleigh.  I know her--she's a great neighbor and the loving mother of two tiny, adorable children.  I knew that she was employed as a teacher before having children, so in my head her label read "teacher."

Then I discovered another label for Diana--artist. She has beautiful paintings scattered about her house; many of them lovely landscapes (my favorite paintings always seem to be landscapes), some with water views (even better). I almost fell on the floor when I learned that she had done them all. It's so much fun when you learn about another layer of a person you thought you knew.  Diana Porter is an artist!  Here's one of her landscapes:

Diana Porter
This landscape is 9x12 inches. It is a painting of the view from West Lake Road in Skaneateles New York.  Pastel on pastel paper. Oh, this would be so pretty in a frame on your wall.  Every time you pass by and glance at it, your blood pressure will drop a bit.  Paintings begin at $200, depending on whether it's framed.  Diana also works in acrylics.

And another

Diana Porter

Diana also makes jewelry, like this beaded cuff in gorgeous colors:

Diana Porter

One more--she makes wonderful door signs.  This one is for a child and only costs $25:
Diana Porter

Something for everyone.  If you click on her name, Diana Porter, it will take you to her website.  Very bare bones, but it gives you contact info.  It's exciting to know that she's an artist.  Now when I look across the street at night and see the light on in one of the rooms upstairs, I know that she's painting yet another beautiful scene while her children sleep.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Find of the Week

I think I've mentioned that I'm originally from Maine.  I spent much of my youth in New Hampshire.  Two beautiful states, filled with gorgeous trees, wonderful people and my favorite coastlines.  But cold, cold,cold winters.  So this amazing NC weather will never get old for me.  Warm, sunny days that allow us to have big pots of pansies out on the porch all winter long (well, not our porch, we have deer, but let's not ruin the mood).  I soak it up and am ever grateful to be here.

Find of the Week-- I went to Ecko, over on Glenwood Ave., in Raleigh.  Neal is the top dog over there and he's very knowledgeable about his products and a dapper dresser.  I was looking at kitchen chairs in particular for a lovely client. You all know how hard it is to find great kitchen chairs.  They've got to take some abuse, but we want them to be stylish too.  And we don't want to spend a ton on them because it's nice to change them out every now and then.  Sorry, but I don't want the same chairs for a lifetime, I want to have a little fun with that part of the room.  Ecko has some great choices in metal finishes and leather.  These two are my favs from last week's visit:

This is the Violetta.  $200.  It comes in a myriad of finishes and seat fabrics.  Love it!  I wouldn't go with that fabric, just because of all the white, but there are plenty of other equally fun choices.  That metal color is a charcoal. Fabulous.

This is the Bennet in leather.  $150 each.  Comfy.  Nice clean lines.  So handsome.

Just about everything at Ecko comes in several finishes and fabrics.  And they carry a fair amount of market samples, so there are some real bargains to be found.  Every lover of contemporary style can find something to take home at Ecko.  My own kitchen chairs were Ecko clearance finds and everyone who walks into our kitchen says "where'd you get those chairs?" 

Life is short.  Have some fun chairs.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Gardens, cats, Spring, Winter (Free association)

I'm looking forward to the publication date of Margaret Roach's "And I shall have some peace there."  Margaret writes a great gardening blog, full of useful tips and beautiful pictures.  Like the one above, of her cat, Jack (with the book!).  Jack is one handsome cat.  And then there are gorgeous floral shots. Like this one:

And many, many more.  Oh, dear.  Is Spring coming?  Is it almost here?  They're calling for a little snow tonight.  Sigh.  Moan.  Groan.  Wasn't it just recently that we were complaining about what a hot summer it was?  Snap out of it!  Winter is a beautiful time of year.  I tell Grandboy that all the trees and plants are resting, getting ready for their big burst into Spring.  So it's all good.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

More fab finds

I stopped in to TJ Maxx today.  Haven't been there in such a long time!  I could have taken home many things and tucked them away for clients, but you know I just can't do that.  I don't have a storage unit (maybe I'll get one!) and my office would be crammed in no time.  See the chair above? (phone pictures don't do my finds justice)  Very Restoration Hardware (their new look).  Lovely weathered finish with a hint of gray, beautiful heavy linen upholstery.  $300.  Let's see what RH would charge for this...

This is what I found at  It's on special for $249! How embarrassing. At least you know I'm honest with you!  Of course, you'd have to pay for shipping  and I think the one I saw is a bit more generous in size.  But still....  Ok!  On to the next find!

This lamp is hefty, has a 3 way switch, a brushed nickel finish and a great shade--$50 (or $45.99, something like that--try not to pin me down when I'm in the thrall of the discount experience).  Too bad I can't rip off the plastic covering when I photograph lampshades (don't they know who I am?).  This one is brown with an ivory pin dot pattern.  Very nice.  You get a dark shade that will still give off some nice light (unlike black shades of olde).  I will not be looking up how much it would cost at Restoration Hardware.  I've learned my lesson. 

Then there was this artsy retro  beauty:

The shade isn't quite right, but the base has that lovely drippy fired pottery look. I like it.  No price tag, so it must be free.  I'd guess it to be in the $35-50 range, based on their other lamps.  Aging hippies will snap it up.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Find of the week!

Remember that the Find of the Week doesn't have to be something you can buy.  Today was a cold and rainy Friday and the Grandboy had a half day of school, so it was a fast work day for me.  The road to everywhere from my house takes me past this sight:

It's the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse!  Ok, no, it's not.  It stands in someone's yard.  If you're really lucky to pass it in the evening, you might even see it with the light on.  It makes me think of the beach--summer, sand,  sun and ocean. It also makes me think of my very favorite lighthouse:

Nubble Light in York, Maine.  Maine is a beautiful state.  The ocean is very, very cold.  The beach is quite rocky.  My favorite beach is Moody Beach in Wells, Maine.  Aren't these nice thoughts to have on a cold, rainy day in February?  All because of that little lighthouse, standing in a yard that I pass by every day.  That's a Find in my book.